Dallas, USA. Ivonne Kinser (Head of Digital Marketing & eCommerce Avocados From Mexico)
Additionally to leading the digital marketing efforts for Avocados From Mexico since 2014 when she created the capabilities from the ground, Ivonne leads internally with the CEO, the company’s Innovative thinking agenda and innovation training for the organization.
In 2018, she became one of the five women honored with the Changing the game Award Brainwave Category. An award given by the prestigious She Runs It organization, which recognizes women within the marketing industry who are true catalysts of innovation by fearlessly making bold moves and reinventing the rules of marketing to transform their brands, and their organizations.
The previous year, the American Advertising Federation had included her in the list of “20 Women to Watch in Dallas Advertising” and awarded her the Shining Star Award, which recognizes women in the Dallas advertising industry who are breaking glass ceilings.
Through the span of her 20-year+ marketing career, Ivonne has played leadership roles in multiple corporations representing multibillion brands, as well as in top advertising agencies such as Lintas, McCann Erickson Worldwide and The Richards Group, working with well-known brands in almost every category. In 2014, she joined Avocados From Mexico as the Head of Digital Marketing, and in four years has built the organization’s digital practice from the ground up, based on the principles of digital transformation.
- What is the biggest challenge in the communication of products of origin, such as avocados?
The communication of a brand of fresh produce, as in our case Avocados From Mexico faces many challenges. Especially when it is a brand very focused on innovative marketing strategies aimed to break down the barriers in the today’s channels that are very saturated with messages of all kinds and reach our consumers in the most effective and efficient way.
Avocados From Mexico as the marketing arm of the producers, exporters, importers and distributors of Mexican avocados in the United States has two main objectives: 1) To increase the demand for Mexican avocados in the United States, and 2) To build the brand Avocados From Mexico in the United States. Each of these goals represents major marketing challenges. On the brand side, we’re really building a brand in a category where brands traditionally don’t exist. In addition, our brand, Avocados From Mexico, is also our origin. And while there is a high level of recognition among consumers that the avocados they consume are Mexican avocados, we still have a long way to go to get our consumers to establish that link: Those avocados from Mexico that account for 90% of all the avocados consumed in the United States have a brand, and that brand is Avocados From Mexico.
As for the goal of increasing demand and per capita consumption of Mexican avocados in the United States, we face another set of barriers. Although we are a fresh produce brand, when it comes to marketing and communication strategies, we think, plan and execute as a CPG. However, we lack one of the most valuable brand elements in the CPG world: the package.
Despite having successfully planned and executed many of the industry’s most innovative digital campaigns, and despite having a team that stands out for its understanding of technology marketing, (which allows us to use technology to achieve almost any result we want), we are not able to determine the return on investment of campaigns, because we simply do not have a package. Without a package, we do not have a uniform barcode on each product, and without a barcode we cannot close the circle. In other words, we are unable to track the consumer journey from ad transaction, failing to establish the attribution of the sale to our digital marketing effort.
On the other hand, we have barriers that potentially cause friction at the time of the purchase decision by slowing down the purchase intention that could be achieved by our marketing communications. An example is the lack of consumer knowledge regarding the preparation and preservation of avocados. Even consumers inspired by our messages of the nutritional benefits of fruit, or its versatility, can be demotivated at the time of purchase when they realize that they may not feel confident to choose an avocado that will be perfectly ripe at the time they want to prepare and consume it, or in their ability to slow down maturation if the time of consumption is planned for several days after purchase.
At Avocados From Mexico we approach all these challenges with intelligent communication strategies based on a lot of research, but nevertheless, the development of those education strategies significant require investment, effort, and time.
- During the Super Bowl, avocados From Mexico’s digital campaigns have been recognized as one of the most successful, how did they manage to connect in this way with such demanding audiences?
I think it all starts with the kind of leadership that has led the brand and the company to that successful path. Our President Alvaro Luque, who took charge of the organization shortly after its creation, has led the team of less than 30 people with determination, openness, persistence, and a great vision. With a lot of discipline, focus, flexibility, and a culture deeply rooted in innovative creative processes and measurable results, Avocados From Mexico in only a few years has earned the respect of an industry that functions in a very demanding market.
Without a doubt Avocados From Mexico’s digital Super Bowl campaigns have been an important pillar. In such a difficult and competitive stage, AFM’s has demonstrated its ability to penetrate strong barriers and engage users in ways and in numbers that even global brands with multibillion-dollar marketing budgets haven’t been able to do.
For 5 consecutive years Avocados From Mexico has positioned itself as the number one or number two campaign in the Merkle Bowl Report, among many brands competing for the attention of more than 100 MM of consumers actively participating in social media in one of the busiest social conversations in the market. This recognition has not been won subjectively, but on the basis of 100% measurable performance, and comparable to the more than 50 brands participating in the Super Bowl with a TV commercial and digital campaign.
The MERKLE BOWL REPORT is one of the most objective and respected sources in the field, as it performs a thorough, detailed and expert analysis of the digital campaigns of the Super Bowl in four key areas of digital marketing: SEM (SEO and Paid Search), display and social media. The digital activations that show a high level of excellence in digital marketing and a higher performance than the rest, earn more points. In the end, those points are added up and the winning brands are determined.
Avocados From Mexico is the only brand in Merkle Bowl Report history that has remained in the top two places for five consecutive years.
In addition to our strong focus on results, what has allowed us to surpass the performance of even some of the largest well-established brands in the world is our bold creative approach and the integration of disruptive technology platforms and tools in each of our campaigns. That has help us not only innovate, but also to strengthen our performance in a highly efficient and effective way.
To cite some examples:
- In the 2018 Super Bowl Avocados From Mexico partnered with a technology company in Silicon Valley to bring to the market the picmoji, a combination of selfies with emojis, for the first time on a digital marketing platform.
- In 2019 the integration of IBM Artificial Intelligence tool Watson in our digital campaign, attracted not only the attention of the consumers and the media, but even from the IBM’s team who contacted us to congratulate for the level of creativity displayed in the integration of their Artificial Intelligence capabilities into our Super Bowl campaign.
- In 2020 we were the first brand to integrate blockchain technology into a digital campaign, positioning ourselves in second place among the most talked about Super Bowl campaigns, (only surpassed by Donald Trump’s campaign).
Inventiveness, discipline, an unwavering obsession with metrics and results, limitless creativity, a deep understanding of the digital ecosystem, and solid expertise in the application of technology to solve business and marketing challenges, is the formula that has led Avocados From Mexico to excel as one of the most successful digital practices in the industry, 100% based on performance results.
- And how do you connect with the creative agency to achieve these goals?
It’s very easy because we share the same mindset. Our digital creative agencies Lerma (Social media and Digital Strategy), and 270B (Web Development and Technology Integration), are an extension of our own creative thinking and our perspective of digital marketing.
Our agencies don’t have to “sell us ideas” because we share the same ideology in regards to what advertising and marketing should be in the 21st century.
- When choosing the creative agency for your brands, what are those variables that influence your decision the most?
In the area of digital marketing, which is the area that I lead, I prefer to work with small agencies that have a flat structure and the agility and speed to move at our speed (which is extremely accelerated). In the digital space where you can build a full campaign in a couple of weeks, and pivot abruptly if the data shows new opportunities or challenges, we can’t afford to partner with a bureaucratic agency with outdated processes, structures and rules that could protentional jeopardize the performance of our campaigns.
My digital agencies are my strategic partners. My success depends in large part on them and on their own performance, processes and pace. For that reason, their processes, their performance, their workstyle and the pace at which they function must be absolutely aligned with ours.
If I have to describe point by point my ideal agency, I would tell you that it is first of all very creative. I’m not talking about creative in the traditional sense, but a kind of creative rebellion. A fighter against the traditional approaches, of the stereotypes and of the rules of traditional marketing. It is fast and agile, and that speed and agility are tooted in an immense passion for the work they do. Any agency that tells me that it takes two weeks to give me a brief or a point of view is definitely not my type of agency.
My agency must be non-conformist, stubborn, relentless and never give up. Not even when the goals seem unattainable, and the deadlines impossible to meet.
In my case, I am very fortunate that AFM is a company with a very entrepreneurial culture in which our president gives us in a certain way the freedom to choose the strategic partners that most closely align with our own work style, vision, passions, and goals. My agencies are my pillars. None of the many successes that we have achieved in the digital marketing area would have been possible without the rebellious, stubborn, relentless and yet altruistic spirit of each of the people who are part of my teams in each of my agencies.
- And what variables influence to discard an agency in a pitch?
I’m not a fan of traditionalist agencies. Whether it’s in regard to their creative approaches, processes, rules or structures. I believe that we live in an industry where freedom of thought and action are fundamental to bringing out a good product. Restraining cultures, restrictive structures, processes and rules have the devastating effect of castrating the creative process, wasting energy, wearing down individuals who must constantly adhere to those limiting restrictions limiting their creative potential.
We live in a very connected industry where everyone knows who is who, and these kinds of cultures are very easy to identify, even before the pitch. But even when that is not the case, the interaction during the early stages of the process would expose all these aspects.
Regardless of how creative the ideas are and how smart the strategy is, it is the culture what will sustain long-term success.
- What advice would you give ad agencies when submitting credentials?
After all, people do business with people, not with companies. Before investing money and effort in a new business pitch, study the culture of the brand and the people who run the business. We work in an industry where ideas are a commodity. I have no doubt that most agencies have incredibly talented people at the level of the most creative brands in the world, therefore, the great ideas will come, and a good strategy is achieved by really understanding the client’s business. However, cultures and personalities cannot be changed and if they do not fit, they do not fit. That’s why it’s important that we set priorities. First, the people.
- If there was an ideal creative agency, what would it be like?
I don’t think there is such a thing as an “ideal agency”, but I think that there are ideal agencies for each brand and for each culture. In this day and age everything starts with culture. Any agency should define its culture very well and act according to it firmly and without a hesitation; hire according to it and look for clients that are organically aligned with it. I think that’s the only way to accomplish sustainable success.